Tag Archives: faces

thoughts on weaving and drawing

I have been weaving faces for several months. I began with small works, about 8” square each. Simple sketches, gestural and to the point. The idea is to give quick studies of the kinds of feelings which occur in a time like ours. 

Dismay, Handwoven, 8” square, wool and cotton, 2018

My artmaking, when I was young, was mostly about drawing faces, and i longed to get back to the direct expressivity and engagement of personality and opinion.

Working like this now, in weaving, is about the precision of line necessary to make subtle changes in expression. It gives me a new way to interact intimately with my process and examine each thread to see what it will do.

I have envisioned a roomful of large faces like this, suspended, not necessarily nailed to walls, 36”x 30”, or so.  I am working on these now, along with a set about 12” x 18”, which, annoyingly, are proving more expressive.  What’s size got to do with it? Most likely, it is easier to control the image at that scale.

Ooooh, Handwoven, 16”x12”, wool and cotton, 2018

Ferocity, 2018. 16” x 12”, 2018

Howl, 2018. 35” x 30”, wool with cotton.

I am amazed by the difference in working between these scales.  What works as a small gesture seems, well, sometimes silly, translated to a larger scale.  How do I draw at that scale to keep it real? What is astonishing is the technical dexterity that I need for this translation.

Worry, 2018. 27” x 24”. Handwoven, acrylic and nylon.

Everything becomes exaggerated.  Lips, when small, nearly inconsequential, a mere mark , but then 6 times as large? Silly?

The small pieces seem gender neutral. The big ones seem more female. And perhaps cartoonish?  It seems I always come back to the face I know best, my own.

This is all good information to ponder, as I make. I often find that I do not know what I am actually making until after I make it. This is new territory for me.   Feedback is so helpful. Please comment, if you are so moved.

Artistic “Expression”

I have been hunting for a way of manifesting a body of work which would be rigorous, exploratory, and pleasurable in the execution. I am into the third set of small weavings of faces and face-like items. (I wrote about Sad Mango a few weeks ago)

I supposed this was sparked by my adventures in the woods at Bloedel Reserve a year and a half ago. The trees were full of eyes, watching me with a benign interest. I have been struggling ever since to determine what to do about this perceived watchfulness.

Eyes of Alder (above) becomes The Man in the Moon (below)

I finally determined, after quite a bit of waffling, that I have a great interest in faces. I want to express that interest.  The challenge in weaving is (as always), just how to manifest the subject. And why even make them?  It took my head a long time to settle down over these issues and just allow me to weave simple faces, but full of expression.  I am working on economy of marks but full expressiveness.

Here are a few recent ones, (each handwoven, wool with cotton, roughly 6″ square).

Terseness, handwoven tapestry, 2018.

Skepticism, handwoven tapestry, 2018

Pain, handwoven tapestry, 2018

Wail, 2018, handwoven by Laura Foster Nicholson

Sanguine, handwoven tapestry, 2018

What is Drawing?

Drawing! Line + shape, form, color = drawing?  What separates drawing from, say, weaving?

I tend to think of drawing as line, and color as fill. Drawing as line, shape as form.

Sad Mango

Sad Mango, 2018. Handwoven tapestry, 9” x 8”, Wool with cotton

Drawing as line, form as the total. 

Weaving is a process with its own system of mark making. But I like to draw. I like to think I can use weaving as a drawing medium.

I am scornful of those who speak of “woven paintings”. Then why do I reference drawing when I am really trying to weave?

I think I am defining drawing incorrectly.

Really, drawing seems to me to be the term for outlining a form, an idea; it is exploration.

Anyway, I am in a maelstrom of overthinking process and content lately. All I want to do is draw. All I want to do is weave. I want to weave things I have not woven before.  I have been going back to the loom, making a fuss, stepping back, for many months now.

Today I decided to narrow in on, and so continue, a decision to focus on the human face, even if it is on, say, a Mango.  I wove off five quick studies of facial expressions, and kept them as simple as possible, trying to use direct and simple means to achieve, literally, expressions.

(these are raw photos, taken while on the loom. More later!)